Poor Widow’s Rich Offering
“A poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus said, ‘this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. . . she, as poor as she is, has given everything she has.’” Luke 21:2-4 (NLT)
This passage is an instant challenge and bothers me for one reason: I don’t know if I could drop everything I have in the collection box of God and walk away.
Yet, that is exactly what this widow did. She took her entire net worth, two of the smallest of Jewish coins, walked into the presence of God, and without considering anyone was watching, especially God as Messiah, dropped them in the collection box and walked away. She didn’t get a receipt, couldn’t write it off on her taxes as a charitable donation and didn’t tell the pastor she no longer had food money or bus fare to return home. She simply gave her all to God and walked away because that was what her heart wanted to do.
Not me. My ego always struggles with acknowledgment. I want the leaders of the church and denominational officials (and truth be told, God, to a lesser extent) to know exactly what I’m sacrificing. I not only want my left hand to know what my right hand is doing (Matt. 6:3), I want them to get together and start and avalanche of applause because I’ve done it. Who really wants to give in secret when a bunch of our friends can get together and give us a big party for all our generosity?
A Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table . . . Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” – Luke 11:37ff
One day, Jesus is walking along, teaching a crowd of people about prayer, Beelzebub, driving out demons and the sign of Jonah, who lived inside a fish for three days. You know, the basics of the faith. Then a Pharisee invites Jesus to eat at his house, so Jesus goes and has a nice lunch, but when He doesn’t wash before the meal the way custom instructed, the Pharisee gets religious with the creator of the universe.
In response to this Pharisee and his concern for traditions over God’s mercy, Jesus tells him and his friends they are filthy cups and fools who are headed towards God’s judgment for the way they chose tradition over relationship. This is the famous passage where Jesus pronounces His “Six Woes” upon the Pharisees and scribes.
It occurred to me that Jesus is actually condemning those who were feeding Him lunch. After accepting an invitation to eat in someone’s home, Jesus turns on the one who fed Him. In appears that Jesus wasn’t afraid to tell the truth to those who were hosting Him. Could pastors (me included) learn a lesson from this?
How often have pastors been afraid to address certain church issues in fear of offending the generous giver and losing their financial support? Are we, in this manner, placing tithes over truth?